Published: Monday, 17 April 2017 20:30
Written by Don Goulding
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. (Revelation 3:11-12)
A friend of mine, Pete Schichtel, was a U.S. Coast Guard pilot flying a search and rescue pattern off the Florida coast. Twenty-four hours earlier, a hired boat driver abandoned two women while they were SCUBA diving. They surfaced to find themselves in the middle of an empty sea, no boat in sight.
“Lord, keep them safe,” Pete said as he squinted into the empty blue. “We need your help.”
The sun lowered to the horizon and time was running out. The victims could float with their inflatable dive vests, but they would succumb to hypothermia in the night, if they hadn’t already.
Halfway through a grid tack, Pete caught a glimmer of something in the water. Maybe a couple of floats used for commercial fishing. As he investigated, he realized it was the divers waving pink and green swim flippers.
A short time later, the survivors were pulled from the water by a helicopter.
I, too, am abandoned on the ocean. While I was busy exploring the world, Satan drove away and left me to drown. Now I’m bobbing on an empty sea with no help in sight.
Jesus prophesied about rescue, but how long will that take? Will I survive until he comes?
In the mean time, the only thing keeping me afloat is faith. The watery tracts pull at my legs, I’m swamped by waves and tugged by currents, and I cling to my small belief.
I tried the flotsam and jetsam of the world, but it sank when I put my weight on it. Faith is the only option left to me. To let it go is to yield to death without hope.
No one else can save me, only Jesus. I have to clutch faith in him to my chest, stop flailing, and wait. He promised he’s coming soon.
Prayer: Savior, strengthen my faith to hold on.
Published: Monday, 10 April 2017 14:02
Written by Don Goulding
For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. (Acts 4:27-28)
“Ready or not, here I come,” I said.
Five-year-old Emily hid behind a door watching me through the hinge gap. I pretended to look elsewhere.
“Hum, I wonder where she is. Let’s see, nope, not in the bathtub.”
Emily giggled. I knew her hideouts and how long her attention lasted. At the right time, I jumped behind her door and we burst into a fit of laughing and tickling.
I sometimes feel the powers of evil play hide-and-seek from God’s justice. I was dismayed when I saw gypsies hatefully forced out of a store in Eastern Europe, and distraught when refugees in Africa lost a baby to starvation. And if my own rights are trampled, I suffer truly massive indignation.
The reality I miss is God’s sovereignty in every situation. It is not like the Devil catches him unaware every now and then. It was God’s sovereignty at work when Jesus was decimated on the cross. God saw through the ploys of those who thought they were winning against his Christ.
God is infinitely more sovereign over life than I was over hide-and-seek with Emily. She thought she was invisible, even though I saw her peek out and heard her titter. I chose to draw the game out for a more explosive reunion.
Father God does the same for me. Evil can’t hide from him, not my evil or the world’s. He’s waiting for the perfect time in history, then in an explosive moment, he’ll jump out from behind life and swoop me into his arms. He’ll finally remove all sin from my heart, and welcome me home. Then maybe we’ll even tickle each other.
Prayer: Holy Father, help me rest in your sovereignty.
Published: Monday, 03 April 2017 18:26
Written by Don Goulding
Then Jesus said to him, “ʻIf you are able?ʼ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)
I performed a gospel slight-of-hand trick before wide-eyed children at an evangelistic day-club in Slovakia. An eight-year-old volunteer assisted as we sliced a one meter length of rope in half.
“Satan uses sin to cut our innocence in two,” I said. “But Jesus can make us whole again.” We tied the ends back together.
I wound the repaired rope around my hand and reached in a pocket for some invisible Holy Spirit dust.
“When we wrap our life around him, he makes our sin disappear.” The cord was unwrapped with a flourish and, voila, it was in one piece without a knot in sight.
Oohs and aahs rippled through the young audience.
I wanted the Slovakians to know I wasn't using magic so I revealed the secret. The loop that was sliced and re-tied was actually at one end of the cord. I hid that fake end in my pocket as I pretended to retrieve dust. No wizardry, just a knowledge of how to fold, cut, and stash the knotted end. The kids were no longer amazed.
Jesus promised that if we ask and have faith miracles will be done for us. I read these statements and shake my head. The supernatural seems impossible. But maybe it’s time to reveal the mystery shrouding answered prayer.
I’ve known prayer warriors who regularly ask for, and receive, God’s intervention. They’ve learned the secret that faith to access God’s power must accompany an understanding of his heart. They don’t believe in miracles so much as they believe in the Father.
That’s what I want from my prayers—to be so entwined with the heart of God that, like Jesus, I see what Father is doing and I’m used of him to call it into the natural.
Prayer: Father, help my unbelief—help me ask for what you want.